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Pushing Northern Ireland as best option for US investors

By John Mulgrew

Invest NI boss Alastair Hamilton is meeting more than a dozen US investors this week in an attempt to attract new business following the UK's vote to exit the EU.

He's on a week-long trip across the US, which will include more than 14 meetings with potential investors, on both the east and west coasts.

And Invest NI is focusing on pushing the case for Northern Ireland as low-cost base for technology and financial services firms, along with the proposed reduction in corporation tax here.

His visit comes as Damian Carolan of law firm Allen & Overy said that financial back and middle office jobs could be retained in cities such as Belfast post-Brexit.

Thousands of staff work in back office roles in Belfast for big City financial companies - including nearly 2,000 employees at Citigroup.

But writing in the Financial Times, Mr Carolan said back office jobs could stay in the UK, as cities such as Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester would remain low-cost bases.

Mr Hamilton is due to visit firms in cities across the US, including Boston, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

However, Invest NI would not identify which businesses he would be meeting as they are "commercially sensitive".

"The number of new investors to Northern Ireland has grown by 40% over the past five years, and we remain confident that Northern Ireland will continue to succeed as an attractive location for investment, in particular from our largest target market, the USA," a spokeswoman said.

"At present, Invest NI predominantly targets cost centre opportunities, many of which are offshore service centres for their parent operations.

"The majority of those investors, and those in our pipeline, are not looking for market access, nor will they be impacted by a change in that position.

"The two key factors - talent and cost - have not changed so we expect to continue to drive forward on FDI. In addition, the reduction in corporation tax will play an invaluable role in rebalancing our economy, by supporting job creation, based on the combination of tax, talent and value.

"Invest NI's trade mission and inward investment visit programmes will continue as planned."

Belfast Telegraph